Lytro is out, an amazing product

The long waited, revolutionary Lytro camera is finally out. Personally, I think this product is excellent and even beyond my imagination,  it is kind of magical.

The reason I regard Lytro is a successful product, comes from threefold: the cool application, the simple design and the right price.

The cool application

Actually, Lytro is not the only one focus-free camera that developed, go through each year’s SIGGRAPH, you can always find some similar paper related that results the similar effects. For example, coded aperture can do the similar trick, MIT also have some all-round-in computational  photography cameras. However, Lytro, the light filed camera stands out for a reason.

Although there are many classification methods for computational-photography cameras, there is always one secret while classical classification: whether they fully utilize the light come into the camera. Anything related to a specially designed aperture, or natural dense filter or similar filter involved will block some lights go through the lens. That results much longer exposure time, or lower quality with noise as trade-offs. Light efficiency is very important in the industry, that is why several years later, we still find a HDR camera paper published in SIGGRAPH 2010 [ref]. And by using micro-lens rather than light blockers, Ng’s light field camera falls into the glory “light efficient” category.

More over, the demo application is so cool. Even several  years after his paper published, out-of-focus is still a problematic issue for some cases, especially when you want a shallow depth of field. The online demo is very intuitive and directly express the advantage, or at least the fun of this new technology.

The simple design

The key job for Lytro camera is to make photography simple, with out additional focus adjustment. There even no adjustable aperture, since all those things can be done after the photo has been taken. Like the fun application, taking picture of Lytro is very easy and fun, just snap it, that is it.

The more important thing behind the simple design is that, they find the right market target. This is a commercial product, just light another point-and-shot camera. Shooting with it is only a fun hobby, not for serious photographers. Why this market? They may say that: causal photographers tends to free themselves from focusing and they like cool stuffs, like the re-focus demo. That is partially right. Pro-photographers can handle the focusing quite efficiently and they often don’t need the re-focusing.

But, when you think in deep, if the refocuse feature comes for free, why not using it. Actually, light field camera have very limited spatial resolutions for the final generated image. Although it has a 1.1Megapixel sensor, because the light field has much more data need to be captured, the actual image generated should be much smaller, say 1500×1500 for re-focused results (this is simply based on my guess, things my vary). It is far away form enough for pro-photographer compare to monsters such as Canon 1DX (even my poor 60D got a 5184×3456 resolution) However, for consumer, the resolution is not that a big deal, the application is cool, the design is sexy, it done right.

The right price

The right market leads the right price, no one wants to pay over a thousand bucks on a cool high-tech toy, the 399$/499$ price range just fits everyone line. For just that price you can buy a “next-generation” camera, with cool features and the design looks really good, it really a good deal. For gadget fans, show-off guys this is right for you.  This price really make computational photography into everybody’s life.

I didn’t mention too much down side of it, because it is cool, for cool stuffs people can always forgive minor drawbacks such as lacking windows supports….(windows guys are not cool, lets meet Apple fans only 🙂 )

My deep respect to Ng Ren

I really admire and respect Ng, not only for his great research in light field camera and PRT as well. He really has a big vision for computational photography and he managed to made it. I believe the Lytro camera can really spread the power of latest graphics technologies and ignite a new revolution. Good luck for Ng and his all-star team.

One more thing

Let’s wait the video Lytro rock our life. I’m not sure whether they will release a video version of this (I heard from a interview of Ng that they are planning on this). Never the less the video re-focusing will definitely shock the industry. Focusing for video is much much harder than for stilled photo, not even talk about the smooth focus transitions. It really frustrating and experience-intensive job for handling video focusing. On the other hands, video often come 1080p, that is enough, and I think this is not impossible for Nytro to achieve that.

So when the Lytro Video comes out, we can expect another huge succcess for them.





追忆Steve Jobs


同样的,有smart idea的人其实很多。图形化UI不是苹果第一个做的,鼠标也不是苹果发明的,早在iPhone之前,微软早就做过多少代失败的Windows Mobile,早在iPad, MacBook Air之前,就有失败的Tablet PC。在NeXT之前,BSD早早的就在那里无人问津,在Pixar之前,也一样有computer graphics和realistic rendering。很多技术从研究开发到实际的产生巨大市场,都是需要一个临界点,智能手机上如此,Tablet是如此,Computer Graphics以及Computer Vision一样是如此。Jobs的伟大之处在于,他总能准确地把握这个临界点,创造出这个临界点上的产品。

当然,最狭隘的说,Jobs创造了自己独特的价值观,让全世界的Apple users接受的一种价值观。通过简单的UI,真正实现了让每一个人都能使用,并最好的享用计算机(如果广义上这些设备还算计算机的话)。




iPhone 4S 真的没有什么new feature了么?

Apple昨天发布了iPhone 4S,这次发布真可谓是万众瞩目。多少人流传了很久了传言,关于iPhone 5的无数期待,在小费同学的一段介绍中漫灭了。在万众都还期待着One More Thing的时候,我知道Phil Schiller也好Tim Cook也罢,One more thing不是好的style,而且,介绍这么多iPhone 4S….5的希望就是0,带着一丝失望睡去(其实是睡不着,当然原因另作….)


@宅腐集中营 : “你听我解释…..”Phone5无奈的说。4s一把甩开他的手“因为你!就是因为你!所有人都不承认我!你去啊!全球的人都在等你呢!你滚!”Phone5无奈的撩起额前的碎发,邪魅一笑,快速搂住4s的腰,深吻,手探向了少年细腻的肌肤“宝贝,今天不承认你的那些人,我会让他们以失去一个肾作为代价”

其实,大家对iPhone5确实期待过高了,虽然,大家都期待的所谓更快的(Better Dual Core A5)核心,更好的相机(8MP Camera)都已经实现了。盛传的更大的屏幕根本就是不靠谱(想想这确实不是什么好主意),更甚之的猜测甚至包括不再设置Home键等。但是,大家还是期待着Apple能够带给我们something new。反观iPhone的几代更新道路,抛开一如既往的速度和容量提升不谈,从最初的iPhone原版,增加3G,GPS,改变外观,推出iPhone 3G。3G到3GS还是增加了电子指南针,这么一个既不准,又没啥实际用处的好玩功能,同时还有高清摄像,镜头对焦的功能。到iPhone 4,全新设计的外观,Retina Display,三向陀螺仪。

其实,这些新多的功能完全没有Apple吹嘘的那么神奇,陀螺仪的游戏一共没几个,Retina Display也只有看文字的时候勉强有些用处。然而,这些东西,在发布会上,总会给人一种something new的感觉(其实很多其他手机早就有类似的玩意了-屏幕除外)。正是因为大家完全想不出Apple这次要搞出什么new 东西来,反而增加了期待。

然而,iPhone 4S确实完全没有这些,速度对于大多数人来说,是太难理解的事情。谁管你是双核还是128核心,对于经常认为64G容量版本就比16G版本快的人来说,A5神马的,绝对都是浮云。至于摄像,摄像当然是个好功能,但是,对于绝大多数人,1080p和720p真没有太大区别。当然,Apple自己也懂得,结果整了个语音系统Siri,这东西分明就是个软件系统啊,当然,就算有特殊硬件支持又如何,这种东西其实一点也不花哨,比软件功能的话AppStore随便找个有创意的软件就能吧Siri比的欲仙欲死,而且,稍微有点脑子的人就能看出来,这功能不是不能用在iPhone 4上完全就是Apple的霸权。Siri本来就是AppStore上的一款软件,Apple买下来后集成到系统也就罢了,这弄一个iPhone 4S独享…..Apple你也走入微创新时代了么?开复同学的价值观输出实在是太给力了一点。


1. In Colors – Apple的产品是善于做彩色的,iPod的彩色系列就很受欢迎。而且,现在iPhone已经算街机了,多几款颜色,也让人多些选择。而且,做这个东西真没太难的吧。(坐等看什么时候iPhone出彩色版)

2. 更多传感器,传感器其实总是越多越好的,既然从加速度传感器,到了陀螺仪,咱可以再多高几阶么?

3. 近场通信,这个已经太火了,Apple能作出自己独到点肯定会很热买




Year of the copycats!

Several month ago, Steve Jobs make a visionary forecast for the year of 2011

And made his promise with Lion and iOS5

Notifications mostly from Andriod

Newsstand borrows idea from Zinio

Twitter intergration kills most 3rd party twitter apps.

Mobile Safari copies too many ……. such as instapaper / read it later

Reminders is a much much weaker version GTD (Remember the milk, etc)

When camera+ use the volume button as shutter, Apple take it off the shelf…… so

Compare to the mail client in Android, the new mail client is still a toy…..

and Android is PC free from the beginning…….

The game center would be a major failure, not sure how it works when copy from OpenFeint.

iMessenger should be the most stupid one (看到企鹅没?颤抖吧jobs….)


And here is the true story behinds this year WWDC

In my opinion, the key idea here is taking advantage of the success of iOS, and broadcast to other fields. (e.g. from multi-touch form iOS to MacOS, and iCloud migrate iOS and MacOS, also iMessenger….) Which was good for Apple, hopefully end users (apple fans) could also benifits from it.